What are the alternatives for human development?

20 October 2008 by Eric Toussaint

In 2008, the financial, economic, food and climate crises have worsened dramatically throughout the world. The effects will be long-lasting. The international organizations and most governments have responded in ways that can only cast further doubt on their own legitimacy. Indeed the majority of the public are perfectly aware that bankers are being bailed out with no concern for the interests of the people. The convergence of these crises shows populations that there is a clear need to break free of capitalist society and its productivist model which are the root of the problem.

Neoliberal thought nurtures the idea of inevitability. The system that exists must exist because it exists. Globalisation in its current form cannot be avoided, everyone must fall into line. This is a recipe for mysticism and fatalism. Any serious study of history reveals that nothing is ’irreversible’. Take finance, for example. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the free flow of capital made possible by the gold standard; and free trade guaranteed by treaties on trade and investment, seemed irreversible. The First World War put an end to all that. In the 1920s, the omnipotence of financial markets seemed just as irreversible then as it does now. The 1929 crash and the long crisis that followed, forced governments to closely monitor banking and financial activities. At the end of the Second World War, the governments of the main victorious capitalist countries agreed to set up bodies to regulate global finance. The IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.

, for example, was established primarily to ensure that this regulation would be carried out (article 4 of its statutes is very clear in this respect). Beginning in 1945, a number of Western European governments carried out extensive nationalisations, including in the banking sector, in the face of pressure from organised labour.

Neoliberal theoretical ’certainties’ held forth in recent years are no more valid than those of the conservatives that held power in the 1920s on the eve of the financial meltdown. The economic failure and social disaster created by today’s neoliberals might well lead to a round of major political and social changes. Globalisation is not a steamroller that crushes everything in its path. Resistance is alive and well in many places. Globalisation is a long way from having created a coherent and harmonious economic order.

Is it unrealistic to expect that the inevitable social discontent will once again assert itself through broad-based projects for emancipation? Action by living, breathing social forces can transform even the most seemingly inextricable economic and political situation.

It would be futile to expect the logic of the market to satisfy basic needs. The 2.8 billion people who live on less than USD 2 a day do not have sufficient spending power to interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. the markets. Only government policies can guarantee the fulfilment of basic human needs for all. This is why it is necessary for political leaders to possess the political and financial means which will enable them to honour their commitments and duties to their people.

The application of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will only be obtained through the action of powerful social and citizens’ movement. This can only be an authentic revolutionary project, no more, no less.

The first step is to stop the haemorrhage of resources represented by the repayment of the debt.

International institutions cannot be relied on to unilaterally decide to cancel the debt of developing countries. Only the decisive action of a state or of a coalition of states can bring this about. The legal practitioners, meeting in Quito in July 2008, are right to state: “We support sovereign acts of States, which are legal entities, to declare illegal and illegitimate instruments of public debt null, and to withhold payments [1].”

Once this step achieved, it is essential to replace the current economy of international indebtedness by a socially just and ecologically sustainable model of development, independent of the fluctuations of the financial markets and loan conditionalities of the IMF and the World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.


If the cancellation of the debt is to be effective, it is necessary that funds previously directed towards debt servicing should be used for human development. The modalities are to be determined in a democratic fashion by each country.

Putting an end to Structural Adjustment Structural Adjustment Economic policies imposed by the IMF in exchange of new loans or the rescheduling of old loans.

Structural Adjustments policies were enforced in the early 1980 to qualify countries for new loans or for debt rescheduling by the IMF and the World Bank. The requested kind of adjustment aims at ensuring that the country can again service its external debt. Structural adjustment usually combines the following elements : devaluation of the national currency (in order to bring down the prices of exported goods and attract strong currencies), rise in interest rates (in order to attract international capital), reduction of public expenditure (’streamlining’ of public services staff, reduction of budgets devoted to education and the health sector, etc.), massive privatisations, reduction of public subsidies to some companies or products, freezing of salaries (to avoid inflation as a consequence of deflation). These SAPs have not only substantially contributed to higher and higher levels of indebtedness in the affected countries ; they have simultaneously led to higher prices (because of a high VAT rate and of the free market prices) and to a dramatic fall in the income of local populations (as a consequence of rising unemployment and of the dismantling of public services, among other factors).

IMF : http://www.worldbank.org/

Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs), “Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers” as they have been renamed by the international financial institutions, whose aim is the complete liberalisation of the economies of the South, ultimately weaken States by making them more dependent on external fluctuations (flux of global markets, financial speculation, etc.) and by subjecting them to the unacceptable conditionalities of the World Bank/IMF tandem, backed by the creditor countries grouped in the Paris Club Paris Club This group of lender States was founded in 1956 and specializes in dealing with non-payment by developing countries.

. The human cost of the structural adjustment policies is tragic. They have to be discontinued and replaced by policies that absolutely prioritise fundamental human needs, based on sovereignty and food security and the search for regional compatibilities.

“Structural adjustment goes beyond the simple imposition of a set of macroeconomic policies at the domestic level. It represents a political project, a conscious strategy of social transformation at the global level, primarily to make the world safe for transnational corporations. In short, structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) serve as “a transmission-belt” to facilitate the process of globalisation, through liberalisation, deregulation, and reducing the role of the State in national development.”
UN-HRC Effects of Structural Adjustment Policies on the Full Enjoyment of Human Rights, Report by the Independent Expert, Mr. Fantu Cheru, submitted in accordance with Commission decisions 1998/102 and 1997/103 E/CN.4/1999/50

The UN Human Rights Commission [2] has adopted multiple resolutions on the problem of the debt and structural adjustment. In one of them, adopted in 1999, the Commission states that “the exercise of fundamental human rights of indebted populations to food, housing, clothing, employment, education, health and sanitary services, cannot be submitted to the application of structural adjustment policies and to economic reforms generated by the debt.”

Compensating citizens of developing countries for their stolen property

Substantial wealth, illegally accumulated by rulers and local capitalists, has been securely placed in the most industrialised countries, with the collusion of private financial institutions and the tolerance of governments of the North. Reinstatement of this wealth depends on the success of legal procedures instigated by Third World countries and the most industrialised countries. Such investigations would prevent, on the one hand, the corruptors and those they corrupt from going unpunished, but also, it gives hope that one day democracy and transparency will triumph over corruption. They also consist of demanding a compensation for the five centuries-long pillage of the Third World. It entails the restitution of economic and cultural assets stolen from the Asian, African and South American continents.

“States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.”
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 [3]

An exceptional tax levy on the assets of the ultra rich

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
This was established in 1964, after pressure from the developing countries, to offset the GATT effects.

(United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), in its 1995 report, proposes a “one-shot” tax on the assets of the very wealthy. Such a tax, imposed globally, would allow the collection of significant funds. This exceptional tax (different from the tax on estates of the very wealthy, which exists in some countries) would operate at a national level. Such an exceptional tax towards solidarity could generate significant resources. According to the World Wealth Report 2008 [4], published by firms Merrill-Lynch and Capgemini, 10.1 million people in the world hold more than USD 1 million of assets and their cumulative riches reach USD 40 700 billion, equivalent to 30 times the external public debt of all developing countries… As such, a 10% tax on these assets for example, would generate USD 4 000 billion without impoverishing them…

The dominant economic model “began to impose itself when the majority of developing countries were still dependent and consequently, could not participate in its creation; it was thus inevitable that, from its origin, the odds would be stacked against them and contrary to their interests […] The current international economy is undoubtedly unjust, mainly because the ‘developing’ countries did not participate in its creation and today, they are subjected to most of its negative effects. As such, it is important, in the interests of human rights, to repair the current situation.”
Raúl Ferrero, Special Rapporteur to the UN on the New International Economic Order and the Promotion of Human Rights, 1983 [5]

A number of questions remain. What taxation rate should be imposed? … an exceptional rate? … a progressive rate? What part of the funds will be allocated to global projects? … to continental projects? Should there be a fund for reforestation? How to prioritise projects? Should there be a fund for complete nuclear denuclearisation? If so, determined by whom? … the General Assembly of the UN preceded by national referendums? Or continental ones? What proportion will go towards local projects? In all events, one thing is certain: this path must be pursued, and a truly redistributive system must be put in place, granting governments the means to fulfil their obligations towards citizens in terms of economic, social and cultural rights.

Equal redistribution of wealth globally

Never has wealth been so unequally distributed on a global scale. To fight against this dramatic growth of inequality, it is imperative to implement international taxes that would take multiple forms: a Tobin-type tax on financial speculation (one of the demands of ATTAC), a tax on the profits of transnational companies (in 2006, Total made the highest profit Profit The positive gain yielded from a company’s activity. Net profit is profit after tax. Distributable profit is the part of the net profit which can be distributed to the shareholders. in the history of the French economy; 12 585 billion euros, of which a third was given to stockholders as dividends…), a tax on polluting industries, and so on. These revenues must go towards education, public health, food security, supporting public goods and the protection of the environment and to the fight against inequality.

A tax on air tickets?
Damien Millet

After the founding of ATTAC in 1998, the debate on the notion of an international tax has kept growing. In 2003, a commission was set up by the then French president to reflect “on the possibility of new international financial contributions to reduce poverty, promote development, and finance global public resources such as the environment, public health and rare resources. [6]

Among the options proposed in the report [7] submitted in 2004, the French president chose to implement a tax on air tickets. In July 2006, France was the first to implement this tax of between 1 and 40 euros per air ticket, according to destination and class of travel. Many heads of states committed themselves to apply this tax, but by August 2006, few were doing so [8]. It is estimated that the tax raises USD 300 million a year for UNITAID, which goes towards the purchase of medicines for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria for developing countries. Citizens are kindly asked to applaud this gesture. But is it so simple?

The contribution of UNITAID proves that an international tax is perfectly possible, but this is the only merit of UNITAID, which does not seem to have given serious thought to the issues of what goals to aim for and what means this would require.

If the goal is to improve health systems in developing countries, then the cancellation of the debt and the abandonment of structural adjustment policies would have been more effective, since the states of the South reimbursed USD 190 billion to their creditors in 2007, or 600 times the amount that UNITAID collected. Obviously, other measures are critical to improve public health: patents on medicine should be abolished and high quality generic drugs produced on a large scale and made freely available to needy populations.

If the goal is to promote the idea of an international tax, the choice of plane tickets is hardly the best since it is ultimately a tax on consumption, and not a tax that fundamentally targets those who accumulate wealth, as do taxes on financial speculation or the profits of multinationals.

African workers who migrate to a rich country with the aim of sending remittances for the survival of their families in Africa are thus taxed when they return to their country.

Operating at the margin of financial globalisation, this tax on air tickets circumvents the questioning of macro-economic choices [9] that have caused the current predicament of the health sector.

An increase in development aid to the minimum 0.7% of GDP GDP
Gross Domestic Product
Gross Domestic Product is an aggregate measure of total production within a given territory equal to the sum of the gross values added. The measure is notoriously incomplete; for example it does not take into account any activity that does not enter into a commercial exchange. The GDP takes into account both the production of goods and the production of services. Economic growth is defined as the variation of the GDP from one period to another.

Development aid is not fulfilling its role. It is invested not in respect of the needs of the South, but rather of the geopolitical considerations of the donors. Headline effects are key, and only visible and profitable profits are retained; the companies involved are usually from the donor countries; statistics are manipulated. The definition of development aid is blurry. It includes low interest loans repayable down to the last cent, loan reduction, student bursaries (bursaries for tuition fees for students from countries of the South who study in the respective donor countries), refugee programmes (and too often the forceful deportation of refugees), fees for consultancy and expertise, the salaries of technical assistants from overseas who usually contribute very little to the poorest sectors of the populations… The portion of development aid which actually reaches the country and benefits the poorest is often infinitesimal. The trebling of development aid would boost the funding available. Finally, as an act of goodwill Goodwill The difference between the assets on a company’s balance-sheet and the sum of its tangible and intangible assets. When one company takes control of another company, the acquiring company generally pays a price that is higher than the value of the net assets. Goodwill generally consists of intangible elements, such as brands, which are evaluated subjectively. , development aid should be donated, but instead of calling it aid or donation, it should be termed “reparation”. For it is really a matter of repairing the damage caused by centuries of pillage and unequal exchange.

In this context, the UN Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States of 1974 [10] is an important tool. Chapter 1, principle (i), states that the relations between States must be governed by a series of principles, including that of “Remedying of injustices which have been brought about by force and which deprive a nation of the natural means necessary for its normal development”. Article 17 stipulates the general obligation of States to “co-operate with the efforts of developing countries to accelerate their economic and social development by providing favourable external conditions and by extending active assistance to them, consistent with their development needs and objectives, with strict respect for the sovereign equality of States and free of any conditions derogating from their sovereignty”. Article 22 [11] lays down a similar obligation to all States to “respond to the generally recognised or mutually agreed development needs and objectives of developing countries […]”.

Ensuring the return of previously privatised strategic sectors into the public domain

The reserves and distribution of water, the production and the distribution of electricity, telecommunications, postal services, the railways, companies extracting and transforming raw materials, the credit system and some sectors of education and health…have been or are being systematically privatised. It is necessary to ensure that these companies are brought back under public control.

Article 2/2: “Each State has the right to nationalise, expropriate or transfer ownership of foreign property, in which case appropriate compensation should be paid by the State adopting such measures, taking into account its relevant laws and regulations and all circumstances that the State considers pertinent. In any case where the question of compensation gives rise to a controversy, it shall be settled under the domestic law of the nationalizing State and by its tribunals
UN Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, 1974

Adopting regionally-centred development models

This type of development stipulates the creation of integrated political and economic zones, the emergence of endogenous development models, a strengthening of interior markets, the creation of local credit for local financing (whereas in many countries, the sums placed in foreign banks by the richest are greater than the external debt of the country), the development of free public health and education, the setting up of progressive income tax and mechanisms of wealth distribution, diversification of exports, agrarian reforms that guarantee universal access to land for peasants, urban reform that guarantees Guarantees Acts that provide a creditor with security in complement to the debtor’s commitment. A distinction is made between real guarantees (lien, pledge, mortgage, prior charge) and personal guarantees (surety, aval, letter of intent, independent guarantee). universal access to housing, etc.

The current global architecture must be replaced by regional economic groupings. Only such a development, at least partly centred in the regions themselves, can enable the emergence of harmonised South-South relations, a sine qua non condition for the economic advancement of developing countries.

If social justice is to be included in the project of South-South integration, public authorities must get back control of natural resources and the main means of production, credit and marketing. The social benefits of workers and small producers must be levelled up while at the same time the discrepancies between economies are reduced. Small private producers need to be supported in many areas of activity: agriculture, cottage industries, trade and services. The 21st century socialist project has undertaken a process of social emancipation with a view to liberating society from capitalist domination by giving support to forms of ownership that have a positive social function: small-scale private ownership, public ownership, cooperative ownership, communal and collective ownership, traditional ownership by indigenous peoples, and so on.

Reform of trade

Trade regulations must be radically reformed. In the case of agriculture, as the peasant organisation Via Campesina demands, there must be recognition of the right of each country (or group of countries) to food sovereignty, especially to self-sufficiency in staple foods.

Global trade regulations must be subordinated to strict environmental, social and cultural criteria. Health, education, water or culture have to be excluded from the field of international trade. These services must remain under public control, and must be excluded from the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS), which aims to liberalise all public services. Furthermore, it is advisable to abolish the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property rights (TRIPs) which prevents the countries of the South from freely producing goods (for example, medicines) needed by their populations.

“Article 5: All States have the right to associate in organizations of primary commodity producers in order to develop their national economies”
UN Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, 1974

There is also a need for mechanisms that guarantee better prices for a basket of products exported on the world market by developing countries (stabilising the prices of raw materials at a satisfying level for producer countries, guaranteeing export revenues, building up grain reserves – which implies abandoning the policy of ‘no reserves’ – etc.)

To bring about such concerted mechanisms, efforts by developing countries to create cartels of producer countries must be supported. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC OPEC
Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries
OPEP is a group of 11 DC which produce petroleum: Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela. These 11 countries represent 41% of oil-production in the world and own more than 75% of known reserves. Founded in September 1960and based in Vienna (Austria), OPEC is in charge of co-ordinating and unifying the petroleum-related policies of its members, with the aim of guaranteeing them all stable revenues. To this end, production is organized on a quota system. Each country, represented by its Minister of Energy and Petroleum, takes a turn in running the organization. Since 1st July 2002, the Venezuelan Alvaro Silva-Calderon is the Secretary General of OPEC.

OPEC : http://www.opec.org/opec_web/en/
) is too often denigrated whereas it plays a positive role in many respects [12]. The creation of such cartels could enable a decrease in the volumes exported (which, on one hand, would prevent the depletion of natural resources and, on the other, increase the areas given over to subsistence crops) and an increase in export revenues, which could be reinvested in the development projects of exporting countries. Why should there not be a cartel of copper producers? Not so long ago, Chile alone accounted for 30% of world exports. Why not a coffee cartel? … or a tea cartel? The possibilities abound.

Furthermore, the developing countries must be able to turn to protectionist measures to protect local production, namely as Via Campesina demands “the abolition of all direct or indirect export support or subsidies”, “the prohibition of production and commercialisation of genetically modified seeds and products” and “a prohibition on patenting living organisms as well as the appropriation of knowledge relating to agriculture and alimentation.”

“To guarantee the independence and food security of all the peoples of the world, it is crucial that food is produced in the framework of diversified production by peasants. Food sovereignty is the right of each people to define its own agricultural policies and, in the case of food, to protect and regulate national agricultural production and the internal market, to reach sustainable objectives, and to decide how to attain self-sufficiency without getting rid of their surpluses in third countries through the practice of dumping. […] We must not give priority to international trade over other social, environmental, cultural and development criteria [13].”
Via Campesina

Adopting a new financial discipline

The recurrent financial crises of the 1990s and the global financial crisis that has broken in 2008 have proved by their absurdity that no sustainable development can be possible without strict control of capital flows and tax evasion. Several measures are thus necessary to get the financial markets to satisfy fundamental human needs: re-regulation of the financial markets; control of the movement of capital; abolition of tax havens and removal of banking secrecy to effectively fight against tax evasion, embezzlement of public funds and corruption; the adoption of regulations to ensure the protection of countries that contract external debt. Clearly, a completely new financial architecture is required. The setting up in December 2007 of a Bank of the South is a step in this direction.

Faced with the financial crisis, governments should take over control of the private banks with no compensation. In the case of nationalization of private banks on the verge of bankruptcy, the government must redeem the cost of rescuing savers’ deposits by deducting an equal sum from the wealth of major share Share A unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset, representing one part of the total capital stock. Its owner (a shareholder) is entitled to receive an equal distribution of any profits distributed (a dividend) and to attend shareholder meetings. -holders and administrators. Instead of rescuing the bankers, it is the people’s savings and credit which must be rescued.

Abolishing tax havens and offshore centres [14]

Tax – and judiciary – havens have the effect of blowing the financial bubble and weakening legal economies (between USD 500 and 1500 billion are laundered each year). The offshore centre of the City of London alone represents 40% of the revenues of the tax havens. Next on the list of tax havens are other countries such as Switzerland, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Luxemburg, accounting for 30%. The remaining 30% are held in around 60 ‘exotic destinations’ such as the Virgin Islands, the Caiman Islands, the Bermudas… It is necessary to abolish these tax havens and the offshore centres while unveiling banking secrecy to effectively eradicate tax evasion, embezzlement of public funds and corruption.

Ensuring democratic control of debt policies

Any State’s decision to seek loans and the terms under which they are negotiated must be submitted to popular consent (parliamentary debate and vote, citizen control). As such, the new Bolivian draft constitution provides for the Multinational Legislative Assembly to authorise the contraction of loans [15]. Similarly, the Ecuadorian Constitution, in a transparent manner, places debt decisions in the hands of the people’s elected representatives.

“Art. 9. – The orientations and limits on public loans will be known and approved by the National Assembly together with the approval of the budget, in accordance with the law.”
Constitution of Ecuador, 2008

Ensuring people’s right to migrate and settle

Apart from the fact that the freedom to travel and settle constitutes a basic human right, migrants’ remittances to their families living in developing countries represent a significant revenue for millions of families. In 2007 alone, remittances totalled USD 240 billion, that is, four times more than the whole of the development aid package in the form of donations. Obviously, the measures elaborated above would greatly remove migratory pressures. It is through this framework that the problem must be solved, not by closing down the borders to human beings.

“In Haiti and Jamaica, eight out of ten university graduates emigrate. In Sierra Leone and Ghana, it’s five graduates out of ten. Many Central American and Sub-Saharan African countries, as well as insular countries of the Caribbean and the Pacific, show migratory levels of qualified persons of over 50%.”
World Bank, International Migration, Remittances and the Brain Drain, 24 October 2005

Establishing gender equality

More than just a buzz-word, gender equality is absolutely indispensable to any real alternative. It is important to emphasise, in this era of ambiguous words, that it is a question of “equality” and not “equity Equity The capital put into an enterprise by the shareholders. Not to be confused with ’hard capital’ or ’unsecured debt’. ”. These two words are often employed interchangeably but they do not mean the same thing, nor do they have the same urgency. If someone has 6 apples and decides to give them to two people, she might consider it equitable to give two to one and four to the other, according to her own criteria. This is the best kind of ‘equity’ women may hope for - according to objective possibilities, according to the parties that hold power, according to the hierarchy of priorities. It cannot be overstated that many ideologies, even progressive ones, have abandoned women’s emancipation. Women are not human beings at a lower echelon of humanity and they should benefit from the same privileges as men in all domains. Firstly, in the public domain, they have the same civil and political rights, and the same economic, social and cultural rights. Three apples for him and three for her. Secondly, and more importantly, in the private sphere, there must be equality in the family, the household and the community. For it is this private sphere that becomes the last refuge of patriarchy when societal advances are won. This is the place where desire for power subsists, the place where revenge for external injustices can be enacted. Patriarchy enables the exploited slave of the workplace to become a tyrant inside the home! Feminism, as an instrument of gender emancipation and struggle against patriarchy, is an integral part of the alternative, and this is non-negotiable.

“States should undertake, at the national level, all necessary measures for the realization of the right to development and shall ensure, inter alia, equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health services, food, housing, employment and the fair distribution of income. Effective measures should be undertaken to ensure that women have an active role in the development process. Appropriate economic and social reforms should be carried out with a view to eradicating all social injustices.”
UN Declaration on the Right to Development [16]

Guaranteeing indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination

The hierarchical vision of world history often produces a racist vision of social relations. It is with much condescension that even the best-intentioned texts, broach the issue of “indigenous rights”. Native peoples who have often acquired minority status in their own countries as a result of historical events such as colonial massacres and pillage, are in permanent resistance to protect their rights. Even in cases where native groups are in the majority in relation to the descendants of white colonists, for example in many Andean countries, racism reverses the hierarchy of values and gives all the rights to the dominating minorities. Autonomy is thus a political means of supporting claims to those rights. Here again, autonomy can only be won by creating a balance Balance End of year statement of a company’s assets (what the company possesses) and liabilities (what it owes). In other words, the assets provide information about how the funds collected by the company have been used; and the liabilities, about the origins of those funds. of power. This is how during the last decades, everywhere in the world, indigenous populations have rejected submission to the dominant model and have risen up against multinationals, against governments and against international institutions, to demand their rights and self-determination for their societies. New constitutions in Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador embody these struggles and open the way to a just autonomy for indigenous peoples, allowing them to follow or rehabilitate the traditions, customs, rights, political conceptions and democratic conceptions that are theirs. Is this the best way, or the only way? That is a question for social movements to think through. What is clear is that autonomy will enable peoples to test their choices and to meet other communities as equals.

In September 2007, after more than 20 years of negotiations, the General Assembly of the UN adopted a “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, recognising for some 370 million people the “right to self-determination” and the “right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development”, to protect their cultures and the integrity of their lands, without any form of discrimination. Furthermore, reparations are envisaged for the injustice they suffered: “Indigenous peoples deprived of their means of subsistence and development are entitled to just and fair redress.” Even if this declaration does not the have the legal and binding character of a treaty, it is a laudable step forward. It must be noted that 11 countries, including Russia and Colombia, abstained, while four others (the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) voted against it. [17]

Protecting the common goods Common goods In economics, common goods are characterized by being collectively owned, as opposed to either privately or publicly owned. In philosophy, the term denotes what is shared by the members of one community, whether a town or indeed all humanity, from a juridical, political or moral standpoint. of mankind

Reflection on the common goods of mankind is at the heart of the debates in the global justice movement. The notion has acquired various names (e.g. public goods, common resources…) and covers an increasingly broad range of items. Thus the classification of common goods could only be established after a vast democratic consultation reflecting different histories and cultures.

The notion of “common goods” covers the notion of “rights” in many respects. Defending common goods means guaranteeing the right and access for all to water, pure air, energy, food, transport, basic education but also knowledge in the larger sense of the word, development rights, equality, liberty, pleasure… in other words - the right to life. All these rights have been magnificently enunciated in the charters and treaties of the United Nations.

On the global scale, other rights must be guaranteed: the universal right to decent jobs through a radical decrease of working hours, the opposite of the current logic where unemployed people coexist with stressed out and mistreated workers; the universal right to an income for all citizens; the defence of pension plans based on defined benefit rather than defined contribution (creating a defined benefit plan where it does not exist); free education (including at the higher level) and health; programmes of socially useful public works and the protection of the environment (for example, the construction of housing and urban renewal, renovation of the existing habitat, public rail transport systems…); free public transport; literacy and vaccination campaigns; primary healthcare on the successful Nicaraguan model of the period from 1980 to 1983 or that of Venezuela between 2003-2005.

Obviously, the question of political democracy is central. Without the active intervention of citizens at all decision-making levels, the propositions elaborated above do not make much sense.

Building a new international architecture

Propositions that radically redefine the basis of the international architecture dealing with, for example, missions and management, must be adopted. Let us review the case of the WTO WTO
World Trade Organisation
The WTO, founded on 1st January 1995, replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The main innovation is that the WTO enjoys the status of an international organization. Its role is to ensure that no member States adopt any kind of protectionism whatsoever, in order to accelerate the liberalization global trading and to facilitate the strategies of the multinationals. It has an international court (the Dispute Settlement Body) which judges any alleged violations of its founding text drawn up in Marrakesh.

, the IMF and the World Bank.

A major aim of the organisation that replaces the WTO should be, in the area of trade, to guarantee the implementation of a series of existing fundamental international treaties, beginning with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights then all the fundamental treaties in terms of human rights (individual or collective) and protection of the environment. Its function would be to supervise and regulate trade in a way that it strictly conforms to environmental and social norms in accordance with the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This definition is in direct opposition to the current objectives of the WTO. It obviously entails a strict separation of powers: it is out of question that the WTO, or any other organisation, should run its own tribunal. The Dispute Settlement Body must be abolished.

The organisation that replaces the World Bank would regain legitimacy if it were largely regionalised (the Banks of the South could be interlinked), and served to give loans at very low or zero interest rates Interest rates When A lends money to B, B repays the amount lent by A (the capital) as well as a supplementary sum known as interest, so that A has an interest in agreeing to this financial operation. The interest is determined by the interest rate, which may be high or low. To take a very simple example: if A borrows 100 million dollars for 10 years at a fixed interest rate of 5%, the first year he will repay a tenth of the capital initially borrowed (10 million dollars) plus 5% of the capital owed, i.e. 5 million dollars, that is a total of 15 million dollars. In the second year, he will again repay 10% of the capital borrowed, but the 5% now only applies to the remaining 90 million dollars still due, i.e. 4.5 million dollars, or a total of 14.5 million dollars. And so on, until the tenth year when he will repay the last 10 million dollars, plus 5% of that remaining 10 million dollars, i.e. 0.5 million dollars, giving a total of 10.5 million dollars. Over 10 years, the total amount repaid will come to 127.5 million dollars. The repayment of the capital is not usually made in equal instalments. In the initial years, the repayment concerns mainly the interest, and the proportion of capital repaid increases over the years. In this case, if repayments are stopped, the capital still due is higher…

The nominal interest rate is the rate at which the loan is contracted. The real interest rate is the nominal rate reduced by the rate of inflation.
. Aid would be given on the sole condition that it would be used in strict respect of social and environmental norms, and more broadly, of fundamental human rights. Contrary to the current World Bank, the new bank that the world needs will not serve the interests of the donors nor will it force debtors to succumb to market domination. Its first mission would be to defend the interests of the populations that receive the loans and donations.

The organisation that replaces the IMF will regain part of its original mandate of guaranteeing currency stability, while fighting speculation, controlling the movement of capital and preventing tax havens and tax fraud. To achieve this aim, it could act together with national authorities and regional monetary funds to collect various forms of international taxes.

All these avenues require the elaboration of a new world architecture, that is coherent, hierarchical and endowed with the division of powers. Its cornerstone must be the UN, provided its General Assembly becomes the true decision-making body – which implies abolishing permanent membership of the Security Council and veto rights. The General Assembly could delegate specific missions to ad hoc organisations.

We believe in the necessity and the feasibility of UN reform for three reasons. Firstly, its Charter is largely progressive and democratic. Secondly, its constitutive principle is democratic (one State = one vote) – even if it needs to be complemented by a system of direct proportional representation, as suggested above. Finally, in the 1960s and 1970s, the General Assembly adopted some resolutions and declarations which were clearly progressive (and in principle remain applicable) and it set up some useful institutions (ILO, UNCTAD, WHO…)

Another question, yet to be fully explored, is the setting up of an international rights body, an international judiciary (independent of other powers), to complement the current structure that includes the International Tribunal of the Hague and the newly-founded International Criminal Court. Under the neoliberal offensive of the last 20 years, trade rules have gradually overshadowed public rights. Non-democratic institutions such as the WTO and the World Bank operate with their own juridical system: the Dispute Settlement Body at the WTO and the ICSID ICSID The International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) is a World Bank arbitration mechanism for resolving disputes that may arise between States and foreign investors. It was established in 1965 when the Washington Convention of that year entered into force.

Contrary to some opinions defending the fact that ICSID mechanism has been widely accepted in the American hemisphere, many States in the region continue to keep their distance: Canada, Cuba, Mexico and Dominican Republic are not party to the Convention. In the case of Mexico, this attitude is rated by specialists as “wise and rebellious”. We must also recall that the following Caribbean States remain outside the ICSID jurisdiction: Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica (Commonwealth of) and Suriname. In South America, Brazil has not ratified (or even signed) the ICSID convention and the 6th most powerful world economy seems to show no special interest in doing so.

In the case of Costa Rica, access to ICSID system is extremely interesting: Costa Rica signed the ICSID Convention in September, 1981 but didn’t ratify it until 12 years later, in 1993. We read in a memorandum of GCAB (Global Committee of Argentina Bondholders) that Costa Rica`s decision resulted from direct United States pressure due to the Santa Elena expropriation case, which was decided in 2000 :
"In the 1990s, following the expropriation of property owned allegedly by an American investor, Costa Rica refused to submit the dispute to ICSID arbitration. The American investor invoked the Helms Amendment and delayed a $ 175 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank to Costa Rica. Costa Rica consented to the ICSID proceedings, and the American investor ultimately recovered U.S. $ 16 million”.

whose role has increased disproportionately. The UN Charter is regularly violated by the permanent members of the Security Council. New spaces outside the rule of law are created, viz ‘enemy combatants’ held in custody in Guantànamo Bay by the US. The US, having challenged the International Tribunal of The Hague (they were condemned in 1985 for aggression against Nicaragua), refuse to recognise the International Criminal Court. All this is very worrying and demands urgent initiatives to complete an international legal system.

Meanwhile, institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF must be held to justice. In fact, while in principle they fall under the jurisdiction of the international judicial system and are bound to the human rights treaties, these two institutions (to which must be added regional development banks) ignore them.

“Increasing malnutrition, falling school enrolments and rising unemployment have been attributed to the policies of structural adjustment. Yet these same institutions continue to prescribe the same medicine as a condition for debt relief, dismissing the overwhelming evidence that SAPs have increased poverty”
Fantu Cheru, Special Rapporteur of the UN [18]

Furthermore, these institutions have actively supported (and still do) dictatorial regimes and have destabilised (and continue to destabilise) democratic governments whose politics displease Washington and other capitals. The list of their misdeeds is long and the crimes that they have committed and continue to commit are serious. Legal proceedings against them must be initiated by the various institutions that can take action, starting with national jurisdictions [19].

Translated by Diren Valayden in collaboration with Vicki Briault


[1See the full text of the final declaration: www.cadtm.org/spip.php?article3622. For a detailed argument of the international perspective in favour of a sovereign unilateral act, see Hugo Ruiz Diaz Balbuena, « La décision souveraine de déclarer la nullité de la dette ou la décision de non paiement de la dette : un droit de l’Etat », www.cadtm.org/imprimer.php3?id_article=3520

[2Drawing on the investigations of the special rapporteurs, working groups of experts and the General Secretary of the UN.

[3Article 11, Section 2. This Declaration was adopted in September 2007. See below for more on this question.

[4Available at www.ml.com/media/100472.pdf

[5Report on the New International Economic Order and the Protection of Human Rights E/CN.4/Sub.2/198324, par. 10.

[6Letter from the President Jacques Chirac to Jacques Landau, Economic Consultant at the French Embassy in London and president of the working group on New International Contributions for Finance and Development, 7 November 2003, www.elysee.fr, sub-section Archives.

[7Les nouvelles contributions financières internationales, a working group presided by Jean-Pierre Landau, La Documentation française, 2004

[8See www.unitaid.eu/index.php/fr/Un-mode-de-financement-innovant.html: “Today, the tax is already in place in the following countries: France, Chile, Ivory Coast, Congo, South Korea, Madagascar, Mauritius, Niger. Norway, on the other hand, gives a portion of its tax on CO2 (petrol) A VERIFIER to UNITAID.”

[9On the UNITAID website, we read: “In France, the tax has been in place since July 1st 2006 and has had no negative effects on the airline industry. Air France has shown a rise of 5% in passengers since September 2007.”

[10Resolution 3281 (XXIX) of the General Assembly of 12 December 1974

[11See Cetim, Quel développement ? Quelle coopération internationale ?, 2007.

[12For example, Venezuela, an OPEC member, has signed agreements with some fifteen Caribbean and Latin American countries, whereby it sells them cheap oil at a ‘friendly’ price, i.e. prices that are far lower than those of the agreements it holds with one of its chief customers, namely the US.

[13Via Campesina, in Rafael Diaz-Salazar, Justicia Global. Las alternativas de los movimientos del Foro de Porto Alegre, Icaria editorial et Intermón Oxfam, 2002, p.87 et 90

[14An offshore centre or tax haven is an accounting device, in fact, a fictitious space, found in company accounts (institutional investment vehicles, industrial multinationals and others) which enables transactions in a particular territory to evade all forms of control and taxation linked to that territory, as the transaction is considered as taking place somewhere else.

[15See Article 322 cited in Q53

[16Article 8, section 1. The declaration was adopted by the General Assembly of the UN in its resolution 41/128 on December 4 1986. Emphasis added. The complete texte is reproduced in Eric Toussaint, The World Bank: a Never-ending Coup d’Etat. The hidden agenda of the Washington Consensus, Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai, 2007, p. 286-292.

[17See “Les Nations unies reconnaissent les droits des peuples indigènes », Le Monde, 14 September 2007”

[18UN, Human Rights Commission, E/CN.4/2001/56, January 18 2001, p 14.

[19For a detailed argument on this point, see Eric Toussaint, The World Bank: A Critical Primer, Pluto, London, 2008, chapters 22 to 24

Eric Toussaint

is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France.
He is the author of Greece 2015: there was an alternative. London: Resistance Books / IIRE / CADTM, 2020 , Debt System (Haymarket books, Chicago, 2019), Bankocracy (2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012, etc.
See his bibliography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89ric_Toussaint
He co-authored World debt figures 2015 with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); and with Damien Millet Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. He was the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt from April 2015 to November 2015.

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